As writers strike, students suffer

With nothing to watch, junior Susan Zabrocky stares helplessly at a blank television screen. With the writers on strike, shows such as Grey’s Anatomy and Heroes have been replaced with an onslaught of reality programming.  However, recent rumors have hinted at a strike settlement.By Aurora Slothus

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few months, you probably know two things: one, Britney Spears has finally gone off her rocker; and two, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) is on strike.

In case you have been living under that rock, or if you’re the rare enigma who doesn’t watch television or film, here is what you need to know. The WGA, the organization to which almost every film, television and radio writer in America belongs, is really ticked off.

Since Nov. 5, 2007, the WGA has been on strike, meaning that its members have agreed to stop writing any new material until an agreement with The Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers (AMPTP) has been reached.

At the heart of the strike is “new media.” This term encompasses video streaming and downloading. If you missed last week’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy and you decide to stream it from ABC.com, the company with the rights to the show is making money. The show’s writers are not.

In recent weeks, popular shows like Heroes and new favorites like Chuck and Pushing Daisies have stopped airing new episodes.

Some shows still have a couple of episodes in the can, but within a few more weeks, the shows that aired last fall and even those that premiered in January are going to be out of new material.

This means one thing: the dreaded onslaught of reality TV. Because shows like Survivor and the new edition of American Gladiators don’t use writers, they can be produced without violating the terms of the WGA strike.

The strike will undoubtedly have an effect on television-watching college students everywhere. When it comes down to it, do students really care about the struggles of the WGA or do they just want their shows back?

“A little bit of both,” senior Kerri Silva said. “I want my TV back, especially Heroes, and I want LOST to be able to have at least a full season.”

Since many shows have gone on hiatus, students have found alternate means of getting their fix of TV entertainment.

“I’ve been watching shows on YouTube.com and DVDs,” senior Alexandra Zahakos said. “It’s a little annoying.”

Additionally, the WGA strike led to the shortest Golden Globe Awards Ceremony in history when actors refused to cross the writers’ picket lines. If the strike is not settled soon, it might also have an effect on the upcoming Academy Awards.

The strike isn’t limited to just television shows and awards ceremonies. Since November, no new screenplays have been written, meaning that if the strike goes on long enough, there won’t be any new films coming to a theater near you.

Dr. Cynthia Lucia, creator of the University’s Cinema Studies concentration, said that the strike will undoubtedly hurt the film industry, but that it is important that the writers don’t give in to the AMPTP.

“The industry needs to acknowledge creative energies and talent of the writers who have contributed so significantly,” Lucia said. “The writers must be compensated.”

When the WGA went on strike in 1988, it lasted for 21 weeks and 6 days. So far the total count for the current WGA strike is 13 weeks and 4 days.

Recently there have been rumors of a strike resolution, but the WGA has said that “there are many significant points that have to be worked out.”

Although the strike is negatively affecting many, the writers seem to have a lot of support, from famous actors to Rider professors and students.

“We support the writers and want them to get back to work, like now,” Zahakos said.

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